What’s it all about?

The Glory of Kings by Tim Nordin

It is easy to come to view the largest part of the words of the Bible as an historical document. These words become a background, a context used to aid in understanding events at the time in which they occurred; however, by this manner these words hold little relevance for us today. They become discrete precepts, general principles or an echo of a New Testament maxim in an Old Testament illustration.

But the prophetic word isn’t some sort of spiritual, “Been there, seen that, bought the t-shirt,” event. “My word does not pass away,” declares the Lord. That word is about pattern, and that pattern is as relevant today as the day it was delivered. By reading the scriptures with this in mind, it is possible to discover a whole new understanding.

As an example, consider John 1:11. This is generally read as, “He came unto his own, and his own did not receive him,” an historical commentary of the time in which Jesus Christ came to the earth; however, if you perceive all the word as active in this day, you read, “When he comes unto his own, his own do not receive him.” This then becomes a caution to every generation that lives in the expectation of a visitation from the Lord.

Is it possible to know if this style of reading is the proper approach? If the word of God defines life in such a fashion, then the pattern that it creates, the eternal ripples whose origin traces to that event when the rock entered the waters of creation, will define our world – be it in fashion, in politics, in psychology, in the material of the world that surrounds us. You just have to be able to pick the pattern out of the noise. This pattern has been seen, and the case we are going to look at – not coincidentally – recognizes that which is declared by the word found in John 1:11, “He came unto his own, and his own did not receive him.”

Clayton Christensen wrote a book called The Innovator’s Dilemma. This book examines how changing technologies create business cycles. Though established companies often advance using these changing technologies, Clayton queries as to why these cycles occasionally lead to the failure of those same established firms. He differentiates between these poles by naming technologies that cause the establishment to advance, sustaining technologies, and those that cause establishment failure, disruptive technologies. I encourage you to read his book to get a really firm grasp of this concept, but I will offer my own inferior example here, to give you an idea of Clayton’s insight.

The ability to mass-produce sound recordings as a consumer item matured with Edison’s invention of the phonograph cylinder. Recording marched on through an array of different media – gramophone and vinyl records, magnetic tape in the form of reel-to-reel, 8-track, cassette, and even VHS. Alongside these developments grew a history of retail – distribution by early recording studios, then department stores, and even drug stores (Tower Records). Finally came the independents, followed by the chains.

The changing technologies of recording media and playback systems, along with a growing economy, allowed more and more people to indulge in a personal music collection. These technologies can be likened to sustaining technologies. They led to a maturing business trajectory resembling that of the automobile, early innovation and diversity, followed by the imposition of standards and an aggregation of supply.

Then came the game changer – digital recording. The Compact Disc was released. At first blush it appeared to be just another sustaining technology, a different type of recording and a new media to deliver that recording; however, what was missed then – and is still poorly understood to this day – is that the new media wasn’t the CD, it was the binary file format. Be it cda, wav, mp3 or aiff, these were the replacements for wax, vinyl and tape. The CD was a delivery system, a teeny-tiny record store. When music retailers began selling CDs, they also began distributing the enemy.

Fast-forward to the present, and music retailing by independent brick and mortar is disappearing. Though you’ll often see more collections of ‘Sounds to Soothe’ than any radio play tunes, department stores still carry stock for those people who never could set the clock on their VCR and now refrain from downloading music, worried that someone is going to steal their credit card number.

Digital recording can be likened to a disruptive technology. As a result, less than five years after it was founded, iTunes became the number one music retailer in the US.

As I said, this example is my own, and a paler imitation than that laid out in The Innovator’s Dilemma. Clayton Christensen does more than just pinpoint a change that brings failure, he also identifies three points common to disruptive technologies that follow one theme:

Theme: The benefit of the new is not immediately apparent.

Point 1: Disruptive technologies are simpler and cheaper.

Point 2: Disruptive technologies are commercialized in emerging or insignificant markets.

Point 3: The establishment doesn’t want disruptive technologies, don’t know how to use them, and are too late in figuring out their importance.

Now, what does all this have to do with John 1:11? It is my charge that the coming of the Lord is a disruptive event, and, as such, will mirror the same evidences as disruptive technologies. Fortunately, you don’t have to take my word for this. Jesus Christ came to earth two thousand years ago, an event that is documented in the bible. Let us see what the bible says about that event.

Theme: The benefit of the new is not immediately apparent.

Scripture:

Luke 5:39: And no one wants new wine after drinking old wine. “The old is better,” he says.

#Comment: Jesus tells us that people prefer the past over the future, that which is established over that which is unknown, history over vision.

Point 1: Disruptive technologies are simpler and cheaper.

Scripture:

Simpler – Acts 15:10: So, why are you now trying to out-god God, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too?

Cheaper – Hebrews 10:11: Every priest goes to work at the altar each day, offers the same old sacrifices year in, year out, and never makes a dent in the sin problem. As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it!

#Comment: Jesus replaced a law that could not be followed with a free gift that could be grasped, and by this made eternal life available to all. He also did away with the sacrificial system, and the expense coupled to righteousness, with one single sacrifice that covered all. (Speaking of expense – at the dedication of the temple, Solomon sacrificed 22,000 head of cattle and 120,000 sheep).

Point 2: Disruptive technologies are commercialized in emerging or insignificant markets.

Scripture:

Acts 13:47,48: But seeing that you want no part of it – you’ve made it quite clear that you have no taste or inclination for eternal life – the door is open to all the outsiders…When the non-Jewish outsiders heard this, they could hardly believe their good fortune.

Matthew 21:32: Yes, and I tell you that crooks and prostitutes are going to precede you into God’s kingdom.

#Comment: Though they had spent two thousand years preparing to receive what Christ came to give, when the time came he found God’s people did not want his free gift. The ones who did were those to whom it had not been first offered.

Point 3: The establishment doesn’t want disruptive technologies, don’t know how to use them, and are too late in figuring out their importance.

Scripture:

Don’t want – John 1:11: He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him.

Can’t use – Galatians 5:2,4: The moment any one of you submits to a rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered…When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace.

Too late – Luke 19:41,44: When the city came into view, he wept over it. “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it’s too late…All this because you didn’t recognize and welcome God’s personal visit.

#Comment: This appears to be a natural progression. If a person rejects change, there is no reason to involve themself in learning what that change entails. And, having put off involvement, when the benefits of that change finally do become apparent, it is often too late to jump.

Again, for two thousand years a people were established to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Yet, when that time came, those who were established rejected that which was offered. What does this have to do with us? Well, that call was passed on from the Jewish nation to the gentile church. For two thousand years that church has been established to prepare for the coming of the Lord. The pattern says that this coming will offer something simpler and cheaper than the current burden the church carries. Yet, this offering will first be accepted by those outside the scope of the church, and, ultimately, those in the church won’t want what is offered, won’t be able to use what is offered, and will only see the value when it is too late.

It is not my intention to offer a dire warning. I say all this to help clarify one point, and that is the profit to be found in knowing pattern. Times are quickly changing, and it is hard to discern amidst seeming disorder. Think of life like a giant autostereogram. It might seem like just a bunch of random events, but if you focus your eyes correctly, the purpose jumps out in 3D. And knowledge of pattern can help you get that focus.

Pattern is the topic of the book, The Glory of Kings – more specifically, the pattern of the bible. It isn’t a field guide; rather, the purpose of the book is to instill a sense of pattern, to give you a tool to help you transform by the renewing of your mind. Biblically, pattern begins at the beginning and that pattern defines creation, history, and the way God’s hand moves among men. That pattern also seals the end. It is in seeing pattern that you truly begin to comprehend the depth of scripture, and it is in knowing pattern that you can begin to chart those depths.

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